- The Washington Times - Friday, November 6, 2020

Candace Owens, a conservative activist touted by President Trump, announced she has filed a lawsuit against independent fact-checkers that Facebook uses to flag misinformation.

Ms. Owens touted the lawsuit Thursday in an online video where she accused USA Today and Lead Stories, LLC, of censoring her posts on Facebook’s namesake social network.

“It is time to fact-check the fact-checkers,” Ms. Owens said in the video. “I’m sick of this. I’m sick of the censorship. It’s wrong. It’s disgusting,” the activist added.

The video, which Ms. Owens posted from her widely followed Twitter account, referred to a newly launched website that she said contained additional information about her lawsuit.

Few details about the lawsuit could be found on the site, however, with the exception of a prominent request for donations and a mention of the case number and where it was filed.

The civil suit was filed last month in Superior Court for the State of Delaware, the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog noted at the time, but otherwise went unreported until this week.

Lawyers for Ms. Owens allege in a 52-page complaint that USA Today and Lead Stories “wrongfully leveraged their power” against her as partners of Facebook’s fact-checking program.

The lawsuit cites two Facebook posts where Ms. Owens suggested the number of deaths caused by COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes, was being manipulated or inflated.

Her lawyers argue one post was “trust or substantially true” and the other contained “opinion and was not interpreted by reasonable readers to convey actual statements of fact.”

The posts remain viewable on Facebook, but they are accompanied or hidden by warning labels stating that independent fact-checkers have found them to be false and refer to articles containing explanations.

Lawyers for Ms. Owens say that Facebook stopped her from monetizing her account on the social media service shortly after those posts and finds the fact-checkers to blame.

Candace Owens, LLC, the company Ms. Owens runs, generated approximately $35,500 in revenue from advertising on Facebook each day before she was demonetized, according to the suit.

“On a monthly basis, Candace Owens, LLC loses $1,065,000 in Facebook revenues,” the lawyers wrote. “This along with other damages caused by Facebook’s ban result in monthly damages of $1,082,750.58.”

The lawsuit alleges intentional interference with contractual relations, tortious interference, unfair competition and defamation. Ms. Owens is seeking $50 million in damages.

Messages requesting comment from defendants were not immediately answered.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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